Point-and-click games have been around for decades. Gamers of all walks of life have enjoyed fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery versions of the adventurous genre.
Home – a Unique Horror Adventure is a point-and-click game that will send chills down your spine and have you on the edge of your seat. For optimum experience, turn off the lights and wear headphones while playing it…
This app offers up a retro feel in the way of pixilated fun. Every aspect of the game is designed with boxy, digital graphics. It makes you feel like you are back in front of your desktop computer as a kid.
The game focuses all of its attention on a small round spotlight that represents the illuminated area that your protagonist is able to see. You have no idea what is just outside of the light. Will you find a dead body? Is there a serial killer lurking around in the dark? You won’t know until you walk into it.
There are only four actions in this game. You can move toward the left or right by touching the screen on one side or the other. You can look up by tapping the top of the screen. You can view an item by double tapping it. Items that can be examined will be highlighted when you get close to them.
The game will automatically save every time you go through a door or use a ladder. So, you don’t have to play the whole game in a single sitting, although it is recommended that you do so. The entire game only takes about an hour and a half to complete.
There is not much to the gameplay. It is not an action-packed shooter or a complex battle game. Players move from room to room, finding clues and solving mysteries.
When the game’s character opens a door, you’ll hear the eerie noise of it creaking. As he walks, his echoing footsteps are the only sound you hear. At random intervals, you will hear the crash of thunder or a loud bang, making you wonder what is just past the glow of the flashlight.
As you move through different rooms, you will see items that you can examine closer. Some items offer important bits of information that helps you draw conclusions about what happened. Some items can be taken, activated, and moved.
For objects that can be interacted with, players are given a choice of what they wish to do. Will you take the picture with you? Do you turn off the water valve? Will you use the key to unlock the door? Your decisions affect the outcome of the game.
The key to maximizing your experience with this horror adventure is listening to the audio clearly. You don’t necessarily have to have the lights off to be scared, but the sound is pivotal to creating an atmosphere of anxiety and fear. As I am writing this review, I keep hearing creaks and moans in my 70-year-old house that cause my heart to skip a beat. I am duly freaked out. I connected my iPhone to a set of Bluetooth speakers to really get a range of sound that felt almost realistic. I’m going to need a shot of whiskey after this.
The story is riveting. Every time you find a new piece of evidence, you are drawn deeper into the mystery of what has happened to the main character. Why does he limp? What happened to his wife? Why is he covered in mud and blood?
The graphics are great for fans of retro style PC games. It looks just like it should, in all of its pixelated glory.
The gameplay is very limited. It is part of what makes it so short. Although I appreciate the pace – you definitely don’t get bored – I wish there were more items to interact with. This would make it more difficult to discover important clues, and would slow down the story and force players to pay attention.
This game is about three times more expensive than I am used to paying for a game that can be completed in less than two hours. The best defense I have to justify the price is that an independent game developer created Home. Not a team, not a company, but one man. So, spending an extra couple of bucks to help a man feed his family is not too much to ask.
This game is not for everyone. Some people may think it isn’t fun enough because you aren’t shooting aliens or beating up super villains. However, fans of point-and-click mystery games will understand the complexities and appreciate the value of searching for clues. You won’t be scared out of your wits, but if you play the game right, you will feel a chill run down your spine. Home is available for the iPhone and iPad. It is supposed to be compatible with the iPod touch, but based on customer reviews, there is a bug that renders it useless on the fourth-generation model. You can download this creepy adventure for $2.99 in the App Store today.
[UPDATE: The game's developer, Ben Rivers, contacted me to let me know that the issue with fourth-generation iPod users was not a big one and the issue has been fixed with a recent update. Thanks Ben!]